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Terror blast kills chechen president { May 10 2004 }

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May 10, 2004 -- GROZNY, Chechnya - The Kremlin-backed president of Chechnya and more than 20 other people were killed yesterday when a bomb ripped through the VIP section at a stadium where Chechens were marking the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, officials said.
Nobody immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell on the province's separatist rebels.

The blast, which regional emergency officials said apparently was caused by a land mine, collapsed the bleachers into a jagged pile of torn wooden planks.

A spokesman for the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said a second land mine was found near the VIP seats.

But Russia's NTV television quoted an investigator as saying the explosive was made from a 152 mm artillery shell that was detonated with a wire or timer.

Panicked people dressed in their Sunday best clambered over the bleachers and shots split the air amid the chaos.

NTV footage showed men in uniform dragging a man resembling Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov covered in blood away from the broken seating area.

His death was reported by the Chechen Interior Ministry and was later confirmed by the regional military command, the Itar-Tass news agency said.

Police and soldiers launched an extensive search after the blast and detained at least five people, news reports said.

"Justice will take the upper hand and retribution is inevitable," Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the conclusion of Moscow's Victory Day parade on Red Square, Itar-Tass reported.

The city's emergency medical center said 24 people in all were killed and 46 wounded.

Kadyrov had been on the rebels' side in the 1994-96 war, but became disenchanted with the growing influence of the Wahabi sect of Islam in Chechnya.


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